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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sonder Targets Corporate Travel with GDS, TMC Deals

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Apartment-style accommodation provider Sonder now offers its inventory on the three major global distribution systems via a third-party provider and has partnered with multiple travel management companies and consortia in order to expand its corporate travel business, the company announced.

Sonder’s TMC partners include Egencia and TripActions and the company is in discussions to add more, said Sonder VP of sales Kristen Richter, who told BTN she was hired in September from Radisson Hotel Group Americas to build up Sonder’s sales team and bring corporate travel sales experience.

Sonder has a 26-member sales team, Richter said, and “we definitely understand the complexities of the GDS channels. … Right now we are in growth mode. Our remit is really to build the corporate sales function at Sonder. We are dividing and conquering between corporate transient, group and corporate housing. All these segments we are working and looking to grow have a corporate flavor to them, and right now we are laser-focused on growing corporate travel.”

Richter added that there wasn’t any “sudden realization” on Sonder’s end to grow the corporate segment, which currently accounts for about 20 percent of its business, “but obviously corporate travel is a big opportunity.” 

“Especially coming out of Covid, our model and our product make sense for corporate travel,” Richter said. “Our top priorities are cleanliness, location and affordability. Our product type has greater spaces to spread out and work remotely, fully equipped kitchens and a washer-dryer.”

Like others in the short-term rental space, Sonder relies on technology to offer guests a contactless experience through its mobile app, which guests can use to book, request early check-in or late check-out, and reach the company’s 24/7 concierge service, among other services.

The GDS connections officially went live in March, and Richter has been “thrilled” with the corporate business and bookings the company has received. “We are seeing momentum,” she said, and the timing coincides with the upcoming annual requests-for-proposals season. “We are already networking with partners to get into [corporate] programs and to respond [to RFPs] as they come in.”

While some short-term rental companies struggled during the pandemic and even left the market, such as Stay Alfred, Domio and Lyric, Sonder in May announced plans to go public via special purpose acquisition company Gores Metropoulos II with a valuation of $2.2 billion. Its average occupancy rate is about 70 percent, which was attained and maintained during the pandemic, according to Richter. The company currently operates more than 350 properties in about 35 markets in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico City and Dubai, and has plans to open in 2021 in Charleston, S.C., Amsterdam, Glasgow and Paris, according to a July 2021 investor presentation. 

RELATED: Short-term Rental Company Sonder to Go Public via SPCA at $2.2 Billion Valuation

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